Last week’s AGM (annual general meeting) of the Labour Party Irish Society (LPIS) has triggered outrage among Labour’s majority left membership, with allegations flying that the meeting was rigged to prevent a challenge to the Labour right’s control of the organisation.
LPIS is an affiliated society, which means it can exert influence over CLP activities and decisions, candidate selections and other Labour Party matters. There is a range of affiliated socialist societies and, along with the Co-operative Party and some affiliated unions they represent a way for the Labour right to try to retain control or at least influence over party matters.
So claims that the LPIS AGM was rigged are a serious matter – serious enough for Shadow Chancellor and former LPIS chair John McDonnell’s office to put in a complaint to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee.
Now the SKWAWKBOX can exclusively reveal an email exchange between LPIS figures that demonstrates that the existing LPIS ‘exec’ was planning to set up the meeting to exclude left-wingers and allow the right to maintain its control.
The emails were part of a chain of messages on various matters, most innocuous on the society’s finances and the types of reports to be presented at the meeting.
But not all.
In one message, Thomas McGarry – said to be a key figure in right-wing faction Saving Labour – sent a reply, copied to officers of the society, with a suggested plan for controlling those able to get into the room for the key votes and the balance of likely voters:
That’s what they’re showing up for. We can fill the room earlier with advisers, staffers etc.
A room filled with staffers and SpAds (special advisers) is exactly what was reported by those complaining that the meeting was fixed – a situation that forced many into an overspill room and prevented others attending the meeting in any form.
Gerard McGrath, the society’s Membership Secretary, responds simply.
This email is a ‘smoking gun’ showing that plans were being made on Monday, even before the SKWAWKBOX raised the importance of the AGM, to control the composition – and therefore the outcome – of the meeting.
This information – surely more than enough to invalidate the AGM and its results – has been passed to John McDonnell’s office. It should also be enough to merit an investigation into those involved, with a view to the most serious disciplinary action.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted McGarry and McGrath, as well as LPIS chair and treasurer Rita Conneely and Liz McShane, to ask for comment. None responded up to the time of publication.
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